Taos DA, under fire, defends handling of compound cases

Saturday, 01 Sep, 2018

Two other defendants are jailed on child abuse charges in the death of the boy whose remains were found. Police officials found 11 children that were clearly being neglected; Abdul-Ghani was not among them.

Charges remain in place against the other two individuals who were arrested: Siraj Ibn Wahhaj and Jany Leveille are still accused of child abuse crimes after authorities found 11 youngsters starving and neglected in a filthy compound.

Siraj was arrested with another Atlanta man, Lucas Morten, along with Leville, Hurah Wahhaj, 38, and Subhannah Wahhabj, 35.

Two other defendants, Jany Leveille and Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, face additional child abuse charges for the death of the boy, identified as Wahhaj's son, who died December 24, according to Taos County Sheriff's office.

Speaking on the matter, Judge Chavez explained how his hand was forced: "The rule for dismissal without prejudice reads if the preliminary hearing is not held within the time of this rule, the court shall dismiss the case without prejudice and discharge the defendants".

"Going forward, our options are to re-file the charges or take the cases to the grand jury".

During a separate hearing Wednesday, Judge Jeff McElroy dismissed the same charges against fellow defendants, Siraj Ibn Wahhaj and Jany Leveille. That could include refiling the charges or asking a grand jury to indict them.

Law enforcement offices finally raided the compound August 3 after Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe's office received a message, thought to have come from someone inside, saying, "We are starving and need food and water".

District Judge Emilio Chavez ruled authorities violated New Mexico's "10-day rule", a 10-day limit for a hearing to establish probable cause. They pleaded not guilty to child abuse resulting in death.

Prosecutors and law enforcement officials alleged Siraj Ibn Wahhaj and Leveille denied the boy proper medicine and health care as he died in December 2017 during rituals created to cast out harmful spirits from the boy.

In their efforts to keep the defendants locked up until trial, prosecutors revealed other pieces of evidence that indicated the defendants may have been training the children to carry out shootings and had plans to attack Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia.

"The feds are looking to get their thumbs into the pie - they may want to get deeper into the case later", said Shattuck, who is not involved in the case. Law enforcement seized a document from the compound called "Phases of a Terrorist Attack", which included ambiguous instructions for "the one-time terrorist" and "the ideal attack site".

Authorities discovered the compound - located in Amalia, near the Colorado border - while searching for Wahhaj and his disabled son, who was believed to have been kidnapped by Wahhaj from Georgia a year ago.

In the weeks leading up to their move, the mother of Wahhaj's son reported him missing after Wahhaj claimed he was taking the boy to the park and never came back. The exact cause of death has not been determined by forensic specialists.